Chicken Little Grows Up

Fearful

It was just a text; an invite from a friend. It was an invitation that should have been a slam dunk for someone else. But in this old kid’s alternate universe, this simple text set my hair on fire because it was invite for dinner — in the city. Uh oh.

Excuses racing through my brain, my fingers hesitated over the letters that would spell out my regrets. Considering my options, including perhaps an unforeseen natural disaster, the full force of guilt was also upon me. This sweet lady who had often driven many miles just to visit me deserved better than a dumb excuse and any excuse would be just a smoke screen for the real problem. I was a chickenshit. Just the thought of traveling solo to the Big Apple invoked a world of panic in me and that was the unvarnished, embarrassing truth.

So, there I sat, minutes ticking away, staring at the computer. Houston, we have a problem.

I never lived or worked in the city. Any exploration of Manhattan was as the sidekick of friends or husband, not in driver’s seat. (competitive races with taxi drivers were not my wheelhouse). My only lone trip on the commuter train was as a much younger version of myself and the last (and second time) time I took the bus was with my husband the year before he died. Yet, I live in a commuter town, well serviced by public transit and here I was having apoplexy about using it.

I pondered my options. I could decline this loving woman’s plan for what sounded like a nice night with her and her savvy, accomplished ‘gal pals’. Or, I could say ‘yes’; then dial-a-friend. I knew my neighbor buddy was also solo travel-shy but hey, two crazy chicks were always better than one. Problem solved.

That’s how I ended up in New York City last night, enjoying a delicious, entertaining and inspiring night with savvy new friends I never would have otherwise met. Neither I nor my sweet travel pal were abducted. We didn’t get lost in the bus terminal maze or suffer anything but bouts of insane laughter. The night was more than a success; it might have been a much needed facepalm. Though it would have been exceedingly easy to decline the dinner invite, it wouldn’t have been right – on many levels. The time had come to finally make the leap to ‘yes’. Continue reading

Advertisements

After the After

AFTERPublic service announcement: There’s no room for BS in the ‘after’. Drama isn’t welcome either. A crash course in death makes it pretty clear that all you can do is wrap your arms around the now. That’s all you have. The idea that in a nanosecond you can go from wife to widow brutally teaches the importance of focusing on things that matter. Death makes life too real not to reconsider how you’re living it.

Oh, I certainly don’t have everything figured out. In fact, most days, I fly by the seat of my pajamajeans. (I seriously love those things) But, living after —the after, I have a greater appreciation for the right now. I’m hardly always Zen. Like everyone else, I have moments that catch me up angst. My kids can assure you that my worry meter is even more often than usual on high alert and my poor grandkids are stuck with helicopter gramma. Oh, well.

Kierkagard once said “The most painful state of being is remembering the future.” Well, that pretty much sums up the grief of loss, doesn’t it. We’ll never NOT remember that our futures would have been better, fuller, hurt less with our loved ones in it. We had no say in what happened  to them but we do for ourselves. We get to do is say ‘yes’ to now and will figure the rest as we go along

These days my priorities have shifted; my emotional to-do list is lighter. As business partners, my husband and I were more entwined than many; his cancer sewed us even more tightly together.  To be suddenly operating solo is real paradigm shift, one that we have no choice but to make. The ‘how’ is up to us. Though Death gives us no choice and no reprieve, life does. Even when the daily living of it feels inconsequential and meaningless, we can still try to make the rest of our lives the best they can be.

Today, time with family is even riper with meaning and memories. My friends and all they are to me, have never been more treasured. And there’s never a day I could say “I’m bored”, thank goodness! Don’t get me wrong, there are still ‘moments’. There are many times missing my husband gets the best of me. Memories can kneecap me yet, there are other days now and thoughts of life still to be despite the one that isn’t.

Death doesn’t end a relationship. All we do is emotionally relocate the people taken from us. It’s not an instant process but one that continues throughout the rest of our lives. After the hell of the first year, I’m seeing daylight, more appreciative of the ‘small things’, and certainly try not to sweat the big ones as much. I want to love more, laugh more, help more, and hold the hands of both the hurting and the happy more.

The After is tough but so are we. There’s no playbook for it so we just go through it the best we can, with the most grace we can muster (tears are still allowed). It doesn’t matter if all you can manage is to whistle in the dark, or are brave enough to forge ahead.

Whatever’s good for your soul — do that.

 

Magic? I think not.

magic-carpet

Muddy shoes walked across it. Grand kids dripped ice pops on it. My 20 year old carpeting held ghostly remains of our long deceased kitty’s hairball episodes and shadows of spilled red wine. For years now, we wanted to say ‘sayonara’ to the woven wool beneath our feet that held (even when others didn’t notice them) stains of every variety. No matter how many times it was cleaned, the stubborn spots had a way, like the proverbial bad penny, of popping up again. The fact that its color was an ill-thought out pale cream didn’t help one bit.

Each holiday, every fall and spring, my husband and I swore it was the carpet’s last stand. But it never was, so the rug remained, mocking the overworked vacuum, the Oxy 10 scrubber and all attempts to remove 20 years of living.  Finally, as the summer of 2015 ended, we both decided that rug just had to go. It had more than outlived its allure. Unfortunately, the erstwhile carpet outlived my husband, too.

He died a month later. Continue reading

Life Marches On

img_7658Well, at least it marches, ready or not, in the little room where my husband kept his marbles, planes and armies of toy soldiers and knights. When he left this world, he also left this entire room of collectible ‘stuff’ behind – and I have no earthly idea what to do with it! Many painstaking hours (and dollars) were spent collecting,  planning, gluing and building this little world into a mini- museum. We should have charged admission.

My kid-at-heart husband collected marbles, no, not just the simple cat-eye ones, although he had a hefty bowl of them. His taste ran to those hand-blown, kaleidescope of color ones that preened on little stands in glass cases. Looking at these sparkling orbs one day, I realized why gradually my happy place of Cape Cod grew on him. I remember how his eyes lit up when we went to the Sandwich Glass Factory and his mouse-eating grin as he left each time, marble in tow.

Planes were part of my man’s collecting gene, and, true to his discriminating (expensive) taste, not to those plastic jobs put together  with duco cement. These little flying machines were authentic scale models of WWI planes, including the infamous Red Baron. They have all since flown to another space — but that’s another blog post. Continue reading